Binge-eating Disorder

By: Olivia Bauman

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Do you find yourself eating large quantities of food without excessive exercise, purging, or fasting? You can find help for this habit. Have you heard of Binge-eating disorder? This may be what you have suffering from.
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What Binge-Eating Disorder Is

Binge-eating disorder like bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa is a eating disorder. This disorder is like bulimia in that a person eats excessive amounts of food, but unlike bulimia nervosa, a person with binge-eating disorder does not excessively exercise, fast or purge to counteract the excessive intake of food. According to Nolen-Hoeksema (2014), "People with binge-eating disorder may eat continuously throughout the day, with no planned mealtimes" (p. 345). Some then may only eat these large amounts of food when they feel stressed, anxious, or depressed. These people in these instances, may only excessively eat in discrete binges. People with this disorder may also eat in a daze and eat at a rapid pace. In addition, people with this disorder tend to be depressed, have anxiety, and are more likely to abuse alcohol and have personality disorders. Often the suffers are overweight and have a history of frequent dieting and family obesity. (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014)


  • Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g. within any 2-hour period), an among of food that is definitely larger than most people would eating in a similar period of time under similar circumstances
  • A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).
  • Eating much more rapidly than normal
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full.
  • Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry.
  • Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating.
  • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterward.
  • Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.
  • The binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for 3 months.
  • The binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behavior and does not occur exclusively during the course of bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa. (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014, p. 345).

Occurrence of Binge-eating Disorder

This disorder is more common in women than in men. This disorder commonly occurs among people in weight-loss programs. According to Nolen-Hoeksema (2014), "As many as 30 percent of people currently in weight-loss programs may have binge-eating disorders" (p. 346). There does not appear to be any differences in occurrences compared among ethnic or racial groups. This disorder tends to be chronic. (Nolen-Hoeksema)
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Causes of Disorder

The cause of binge-eating disorder is unknown, but there are some risk factors that can raise the risk of having this disorder. Some risk factors for binge-eating disorder include:

  • Family history of eating disorders.
  • Inheritance of genes that make someone more susceptible of developing binge-eating disorder.
  • History of dieting.
  • Young age, this disorder is commonly seen in people in their late teens and early twenties.
  • People who are overweight and acutely aware of their appearance and are self-conscious about their appearance.
  • History of depression or substance abuse.
  • People who have trouble coping with stress, boredom, anger, sadness, and worry. (Binge-eating Disorder, n.d.)

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Myths and Misconceptions about Binge-eating Disorder

Myth: You can tell if someone has an eating disorder simply by looking at them.

Fact: Individuals with eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes.

Myth: Eating disorders are caused by photo shopped images in the media.

Fact: Many people are exposed to the media and altered images on a daily basis but only a small percentage of them actually develop eating disorders. Eating Disorders are serious illness that have biological, genetic and psychological underpinnings. Sociocultural messages about weight and beauty can certainly impact a person's body image and stimulate pressures to look a certain way, but they cannot cause an eating disorder.

Myth: Men don'e get eating disorders.

Fact: At least 1 out of every 10 people with an eating disorder is male. In Binge Eating disorder, men represent as many as 40% of those affected.

Myth: Only people of high socioeconomic status gets eating disorders.

Fact: People in all socioeconomic levels have eating disorders. The disorders have been identified across all socioeconomic groups, age groups, both sexes, and in many countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America.

Myth: Eating Disorders are a lifestyle choice; someone can choose to stop having an eating disorder.

Fact: Eating disorders are serious illnesses with mental and physical consequences that often involve a great deal of suffering.

Myth: Eating Disorders are a result of over controlling parents and dysfunctional families.

Fact: Between 50-80% of a person's risk for developing an eating disorder is due to genetic factors. Parents and families can play a integral role in helping a loved one recover. For this reason family therapy is a primary therapeutic modality used for adolescents and is also strongly encouraged for adults. (Eating Disorder Facts and Myths, 2014, p.1).

Are You Experiencing These Symptoms?

Are you experiencing these symptoms stated above? You should seek help so that you no longer suffer. Help can be one the way for you. You should go to your doctor where you can properly be diagnosed. Your doctor will diagnosis you will the help of physical exams, blood tests, psychological evaluation, and urine tests. (Binge-eating Disorder, 2014)

Treatment Options

  • Psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and dialectical behavior therapy to help teach how to improve unhealthy eating habits and reduce bingeing episodes.
  • Medications such as antidepressants and anticonvulsant topiramate to improve symptoms of binge-eating disorder.
  • Behavioral weight-loss programs after completion of treatment of binge-eating disorder.
  • Self-help strategies such as books, videos, support groups, or internet programs.
  • Massage and therapeutic touch to help reduce anxiety caused by this disorder.
  • Mind-body therapies such as yoga, hypnosis, meditation, and biofeedback to increase awareness of your body's cues for eating and fullness, as weel as promote a sense of well-being and relaxation.
  • Acupuncture to reduce depression and anxiety. (Binge-eating Disorder, 2014)


Binge-eating Disorder. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from disorder/basics/causes/con-20033155

Eating Disorder Facts and Myths. (2014). The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt. Retrieved from

Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2014). Abnormal Psychology. 6th edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education